Why Are Republicans Frequent Flyers and Democrats Shop for Fun? These quirky differences in consumer behavior between members of the two parties matters more to marketers than to politicians.

By Gretchen Littlefield

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Stances on issues like trade agreements, immigration, taxes or job creation have come to define Republicans and Democrats today. And as campaigns for both parties target voters with rhetoric based on these issues, marketers may be tempted to take a similar approach.

Given the nature of the 2016 election, profiling today's voter is more challenging than ever. However, it's important for marketers to remember that despite the great political divide in our country, consumers are not just "Republicans" or "Democrats" -- they're homeowners, working professionals, students, parents and much, much more. This is why marketers must first understand the multidimensional interests and demographics of the typical Republican and Democrat consumer before reaching them with targeted messaging, and they can do this with data.

According to a recent study from Infogroup, there are notable differences between Republican and Democrat consumers when it comes to their interests, careers and buying behaviors. And these differences can help marketers target today's voters with messaging that goes beyond typical liberal and conservative rhetoric.

Related: The Two Ps of Consumer Behavior: (Seeking) Pleasure and (Skirting) Pain

Some findings from the study include:

  • Democrats are 29 percent more likely to work at a company with at least 500 employees.
  • Single-adult Democratic households are 47 percent more likely to shop for fun.
  • Republicans are 65 percent more likely to have a home office and 24 percent more likely to be a small business owner.
  • Single-adult Republican households are 42 percent more likely to be adventure seekers, and multiple-adult Republican households are 47 percent more likely to drive a minivan.

With hard data like this, marketers gain a nuanced picture of what a voter looks like, should Democrats or Republicans be their target for a campaign.

Beyond political affiliation.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what beliefs your Republican and Democrat customers have politically. What does matter is truly understanding who these people are beyond their political affiliation. Without this deeper insight, you risk targeting the wrong individuals in their campaigns with the wrong messaging and will drive a low ROI as a result.

In other words, making broad assumptions about someone's likelihood to purchase based on his or her voting history alone can be detrimental to a marketer's campaign. Instead, marketers should use hard data to gain a bigger picture of who a typical Democrat or Republican is today. Political affiliation can provide a starting point for marketing campaigns, but it's important to remember that these voters also have careers, families and lives outside of the voting booth.

Related: 12 Great Resources for Diving Into Consumer Psychology

For example, a brand might know that their typical shoppers tend to vote Republican. But rather than using traditionally conservative messaging to reach this audience, the brand could consider providing a family angle given this group's likelihood to drive a minivan or an adventurous angle for thrill-seeking single Republicans.

Similarly, the brand might want to steer away from extreme liberal rhetoric in favor of something more relatable if hoping to target Democrats. Instead, the brand could incorporate messaging about shopping for fun or the corporate 9-to-5 work-style given the insights we know about this group.

Related: When Consumer Is 'Smart' King

It may be harder to identify the party allegiance to today's voter, but the interests and motivations of Republicans and Democrats can still be understood with accurate data and insights. Marketers will continue their relationships with consumers long after the election season is over and it is unwise to risk alienating potential customers with politically-themed campaigns based only on out of date stereotypes. Treating voters as complex individuals rather than just a member of one party or another will go a long way during and after an exhausting and emotional election season.

Wavy Line
Gretchen Littlefield

President of Infogroup Direct Marketing Services

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